Gigginstown House Stud’s Tiger Roll will have to defy joint top weight of 11st 10lb if he is to claim his third Randox Health Grand National in April.
Tiger Roll made history at the Merseyside track last year when he became the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back editions of the famous race. Red Rum secured his third Grand National for trainer Ginger McCain in 1977.
The lead-up to the weights ceremony, held at St George’s Hall in Liverpool, had been dominated by talk from Tiger Roll’s connections that the ten-year-old would not run in the event that his handicap mark was too high.
His trainer Gordon Elliott said on Tuesday after Tiger Roll’s mark had been revealed: “If it was down to me, he would definitely run – I’m very keen to run him.”
Michael O’Leary and his brother, Eddie, will ultimately make that decision. Tiger Roll must run in a chase to qualify for this year’s renewal.
Martin Greenwood, the BHA handicapper who is responsible for the Grand National weights, said: “I have made Tiger Roll and Delta Work joint top-weights for the Randox Health Grand National.
“This decision was made essentially on two factors – historical compression which was brought in by Phil Smith and has been used for the last ten years or so. On the other hand, I have to give Tiger Roll this mark based on his efforts over the national fences at Aintree where he is of course unbeaten.
“Tiger Roll was rated 172 at the end of last year and obviously there is no recent evidence to go on because of his fitness issues, so his handicap mark has been unquantifiable since. He is therefore coming down 2lb and carries the same weight as Suny Bay did when he was second in the 1998 Grand National.
“No other horse has carried that rating since. Many Clouds won off 11st 9lb, but he did not have as high a rating.”
Tiger Roll and Delta Work are among 18 entries for Elliott, his team also including exciting novice Champagne Classic and last year’s Galway Plate hero Borice.
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River is one of ten horses to have been allotted 11st or more by the handicapper and Colin Tizzard’s star would have to carry 11st 6lb if connections opt to run him at Aintree.
Magic Of Light, who finished second last year, has been handed 10st 12lb, slightly up from the 10st 11lb she carried in 2019. She is bidding to become the first mare to triumph since Nickel Coin’s success in 1951.
One For Arthur, successful in the 2017 edition of the race for trainer Lucinda Russell, has been rated at a mark of 148, the same mark he held when scoring a famous victory for Scotland.
Christian Williams’ popular Welsh National winner Potters Corner has been handed 10st 6lb while the Robert Walford-trained Walk In The Mill, who finished fourth in 2019, will carry 10st 4lb at a track he has a particular affinity for, having won the Becher Chase for the second time in December.
Greenwood added: “This year, 73% of the horses entered are in the handicap. Similarly, from a starting rating of 140, there are more horses than ever in the modern era entered for the race – 92 in total.
“The race is full of top-class individuals and boasts the winners of races such as the Grand National, Irish National, Welsh National, Rowland Meyrick Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup and much more. It is as good a staying handicap as would be run anywhere.
“You could argue that it is the highest quality Grand National in modern history.”